This is a satellite, stowed for launch inside a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. It is one of two dozen bits of aeriel payload set to be released by the rocket when it launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida sometime this week.
What makes this one different, however, is its fuel-load. Currently, pretty much every powered vehicle that makes it into space is powered by a propellant called hydrazine – which is very efficient, but also highly toxic to humans and can do a lot of damage to the environment.
This new satellite, designed by the US Air Force, uses a less nasty hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel, which, if the results of this first deployment are positive, may well become the power source for all future missions.